During the past year we’ve learned a lot about our closest primate relatives, the Neanderthals. For example we discovered the fact that they had long childhoods, which is an indicator of intelligence (in the sense that childhood is time allowed for the brain to mature). We also learned about their social habits, most interestingly the fact that they seemed to have intimate, consensual relationships with members of Homo Sapiens (the two species co-existed on Earth for a long period of time).
Did our Sun have a companion star some long, long time ago? According to new research, it seems like all stars are born in pairs. The scientists believe that the Sun’s companion (called Nemesis) has departed our cosmic neighborhood not long after the Sun formed.
I am happy to announce that there is a fair to good possibility that seeding life on Mars may be much more difficult than previously thought. In a recent study, an extensive analysis of the chemical elements present on the planet’s surface (especially in the regolith^) has shown that Martian soil might very well be outright poisonous for life.
So why am I happy because of this “bad news”? Because it’s not bad at all. I believe that given the current state of our society and civilization, Mars is too costly and too early an investment to make. Mars is not going to be easy to colonize in the next decades. Before we go about colonizing Mars, I believe we should do our homework. And I’m not talking only about the technology to shield us from the radiation in space, but also about our own society. A species that is still governed by what I can only call “uncontrolled survivalistic behavior” is not ready for the responsibility of being the shepherd of a new ecosystem.
Almost any woman withbaby can tell you that they feel that their mind works differently than before. I always attributed this to the fact that during fetal development, the brain has to adapt to an increased amount of work. It’s all the extra that comes from regulating the operation of all the additional bodily functions that are required by the development of a new human being. After birth, the brain has to adjust once again, dealing with the extremely complex social dynamics that are involved in having a new human being around in a group – and the larger the group, the more variables the brain will have to keep track of.
Guess who was in the science & technology news lately? Yes, it’s China again. Back in September, they finalized the construction of a mammoth radio telescope that easily became the world’s largest single-dish such device.
It’s called RoboMasters and it’s more important than it may seem. At first sight it could be classified as a nerdy game show. It is much, much more than that.
This has seriously impressed me. I’m seeing a fascinating amount of innovation and initiative arising from China in the past few years. The country is on the rise in a deeper, more meaningful way than in the “manufacturing powerhouse” decades.
A recent study has found a possible connection between the severity of autism symptoms in children and ultrasound scans during the first trimester of pregnancy. Apparently, the worsening of symptoms occurs only when certain genetic disorders are involved. But here’s the thing: if ultrasound does have an effect, it means that it affects any fetus, regardless if there are symptoms or not.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. CRISPR, the acronym associated with a major breakthrough in genetic engineering has just brought us much closer to being able to perform arbitrary changes in living organisms. This is important because it may bring us closer to finding cures for thousands of diseases, create anti-aging treatments and even change features in our unborn children.
In the past years, a steady stream of revelations has shown the extent at which governments spy on us. This shocked nobody in the know. We’ve suspected it all along.
China is moving towards ensuring secure and private communications for itself and, I suspect in the near future, for any entity that pays a hefty fee. Large corporations will definitely be interested in having access to a spy-proof communications network.
Rejoice, for scientists have accidentally found a way to prolong battery life with up to 400%.
Now rejoice less, because in the past decade we’ve learned about at least twenty such discoveries. Not a single one made it to the market yet. I don’t know if this is some sort of commercial strategy or if these discoveries are just very difficult to implement for mass production and thus, unfeasible.